A new and prospective resource for scandium: Evidence from the geochemistry of deep-sea sediment in the western North Pacific Ocean

Kazutaka Yasukawa, Junichiro Ohta, Kazuhide Mimura, Erika Tanaka, Yutaro Takaya, Yoichi Usui, Koichiro Fujinaga, Shiki Machida, Tatsuo Nozaki, Koichi Iijima, Kentaro Nakamura, Yasuhiro Kato

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Scandium is a critical element in state-of-the-art, green technologies. However, it is also extremely expensive due to its scarcity. Recently, some deep-sea sediments that contain significant amounts of rare-earth elements that are indispensable to modern industries have been discovered in the western North Pacific Ocean, and the concentration of Sc in these sediments is comparable with that of land-based mines. A simple leaching experiment has demonstrated that up to 70% of Sc in these sediments, contained within biogenic calcium phosphate particles, can be recovered in 5 min, using dilute acids. On the basis of available core samples, we propose that a promising target area to mine Sc is along a west–east transect between longitudes 153°30′ E and 154°00′ E, at an approximate latitude of 21°58′ N. Depending on the depth of the most enriched sediment layer, just 1 km2 of the sediment could potentially yield 3.3–6.6 times the current global annual consumption of Sc. Because these sediments contain an unusually high concentration, at commercial quantities, of industrially important, heavy rare-earth elements, apart from Sc, they could be a productive source for the long-term extraction of these critical metals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)260-267
    Number of pages8
    JournalOre Geology Reviews
    Volume102
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 1

    Keywords

    • Deep-sea sediment
    • Pacific Ocean
    • Rare-earth elements
    • REY-rich mud
    • Scandium
    • Seafloor mineral resources

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geology
    • Geochemistry and Petrology
    • Economic Geology

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  • Cite this

    Yasukawa, K., Ohta, J., Mimura, K., Tanaka, E., Takaya, Y., Usui, Y., Fujinaga, K., Machida, S., Nozaki, T., Iijima, K., Nakamura, K., & Kato, Y. (2018). A new and prospective resource for scandium: Evidence from the geochemistry of deep-sea sediment in the western North Pacific Ocean. Ore Geology Reviews, 102, 260-267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oregeorev.2018.09.001